Above I have illustrated a Jewish myth for the origin of the soul. As you can see, it is a variant of the “Heavenly Bank of Souls” theme. This story does not come from the Tanakh (OT) but from other Jewish sacred sources but from the Talmud and the Kabbalah texts (one reader in the comments suggest this is only from Kabbalah texts, no matter, it is an interesting myth floating out there is some forms of Judaism). And remember my post which tries to weaken the narrow view many Christians (and those influenced by that culture) that sees “scriptures” in a narrow sense — a Protestant scriptura sola sense.
My graphics is labeled A-F which I use below to tell the Guf story:
(A) Tree of Souls: In Paradise (heaven) grows a tree of souls (a Tree of Life) upon which all the souls once began. Some versions have the souls on the branches with birds, in others, they are on the roots. In some versions, this tree is still in the garden of Eden.
“I am like a cypress tree in bloom; your fruit issues forth from Me.” (Hos.14:9)
“He drove the man out, and stationed east of the garden of Eden the cherubim and the fiery ever-turning sword, to guard the way to the Tree of Life” (Gen. 3:24).
(B) Falling Souls: When ripe, the souls they fall off the tree and descend to a chamber for holding.
(C) Guf: AKA, Treasury (Otzar) of Souls or Hall of Souls. called “Guf” or Guph or any of several other transliterations. This if felt to exist in the Seventh Heaven. There are those that say that Guf contains an infinite number of souls, while others insist there is only a finite number of sols in it, and that the Messiah will not come until the Guf has been emptied of every soul. Others say that from the day the Temple was destroyed, no more souls entered the Guf, and when it has been emptied of all the remaining soulds, the Messiah will come.
(D) Angel Gabriel: The angel Gabriel reaches into the treasury (Guf) and takes out a soul, putting it into a human embryo.
(E & F) Angel Lailah & the Womb: The Angel Lailah then guards the embryo while it is in the woman’s womb.
There are many more Jewish myths to explain the origin and fate of the soul, but I thought you’d enjoy this one. So, if you think this is guff, look up your own. 🙂
Questions to readers: Illustrations help me remember a story far better than dry black-and-white paragraphs. Did you enjoy this illustration? Do you have another “soul origins” myth you think would be fun to illustrate?
My Sources: Tree of Soul: The Mythology of Judaism by Howard Schwartz (google books) & “Guf” (wiki)
Pic Credits: tree, Gabriel, Lailah, fetus, earth, the souls & Guf are mine.